I've also been reading some blog posts and comments from some who think that these big mystery cons are a waste of time and money for mid-list authors. Here's my take on the matter.
My first Bouchercon was in Monterey CA and I had a great time. I didn't sell any books, because I didn't have any, however I was on a panel--my first. I had friends who were there and made lots of new ones.
Hubby and I attended many more Bouchercons and Left Coast Crimes all over the United States and had fun. I got to meet many favorite authors and lots of fans. Did it do anything for my mystery writing career? Probably not a whole lot. I never sold many books, after all some of the most famous mystery writer are always in attendance. Going with the thought of selling lots of books will probably end up in disappointment. Go for the fun of it, and you'll have a good time.
The last Bouchercon I attended was in San Francisco. I was able to take the train which cut down on the cost. The best thing about that trip was running into people I hadn't seen for a long time--authors and fans.
My last LCC was in Monterey. That one I drove to with a good friend, spent lots of time with other good friends, authors and fans. And yes, it was worth every penny.
And that brings me to cost--these events are expensive. If you have to fly, air travel has really gone up. The hotels the events are held in are expensive--and yes, you can find a cheaper one to stay in but that means a lot of walking back and forth. You will have to buy most of your meals. And it all adds up.
Smaller cons are usually more fun because there aren't as many people and you do have a chance to shine a bit more if you're an author and even sell more books. One of my favorites is no longer going on and that was Mayhem in the Midwest. Hubby and I became friends with one of my favorite authors, William Kent Krueger, who has won all kinds of prizes for his wonderful mysteries. We were in on a conversation with Dennis Lehane who has gone on to have some of his mysteries made into movies. But best of all, we made many friends with readers and other midlist authors.
There are smaller cons like these all over the country.
The only such event I went to this year was the Public Safety Writers Associations annual conference. This one has a mix of mystery writers and people in many public safety fields, active and retired (police, fire, FBI, etc.) who write both fiction and non-fiction. It's small, always around 50 people with one track. You will make friends. You may even sell a few books if you have them.
Best of all, it's held in Las Vegas so the hotel is inexpensive, plus if you have to fly you can probably find an inexpensive flight.
And remember, this is just my opinion.